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Teen Dies of Cancer After Parents Refused to See Doctor As They Didn't Have Insurance

Newsweek logo Newsweek 9/16/2020 Leda Reynolds
World Cancer Day is launching a three-year campaign to raise awareness of the importance of early detection. © Getty Images World Cancer Day is launching a three-year campaign to raise awareness of the importance of early detection.

A couple in New Mexico facing child abuse charges after their 14-year-old son died from untreated cancer said they did not see a doctor as they had no insurance.

Maria Urias-Astorga and Ramiro Miranda-Quinonez are being quizzed by police amid claims they neglected the teenager by not getting him the medical help he needed until it was too late.

However, the pair said they had not sought medical help as they had no Medicaid and instead had tried treating their son with herbal remedies themselves, local media reports.

Captain Anthony Tapia, of the Santa Fe Police Department, told reporters police had been called in after the teenager died on Thursday. He said it was a tragic case and something he had never seen before.

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Tapia said: "It was just a tragedy case to where he really needed medical care that should have taken place long before."

Tapia told reporters that detectives began investigating a possible case of child abuse as the boy's tumor had been left untreated.

The teenager had been admitted to a Santa Fe hospital on September 7 and later transferred to the Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque in a grave condition.

He said: "The child had a large cancerous tumor encompassing the whole left side of his body."

Local media say that according to an affidavit, the teenager had not visited a doctor for two years.

It is claimed that by the time the boy was eventually seen by medics, rapid weight loss had caused such severe stretch marks that staff initially thought he had been physically abused but later dismissed this.

However, when the child died, police searched the family home near Santa Fe airport and later arrested the parents who have been charged with abuse of a child resulting in death.

Urias-Astorga and Miranda-Quinonez are alleged to have told detectives that their son had started vomiting a few weeks ago and was not eating.

They said as they had no Medicaid, they did not want to go to the doctor and nor did their son, so they had tried treating him themselves with home remedies and herbs.

Tapia told the media: "We need to understand why medical attention was not rendered to this child."

The affidavit is also understood to contain a statement from doctors saying that cancer would have taken between six months and 12 months to develop and had the teen received treatment sooner, he would most likely have survived.

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